6 Tips for Building the Most Successful Startup Team
How to even go about building a successful startup team? To find out, read the helpful tips below.
There are dozens and dozens of factors involved in building a startup team. You aren’t just looking for the right people – you’re trying to create a cohesive team that works together.
There are unique challenges in bringing together a startup team, even in the world of professional human resource management, due to the highly personal and stressful nature of a startup. People involved in the earliest stages of a company’s founding need to be deeply invested in it and need to be ready to make commitments for the long-term future of the business that go far and beyond those of an average employee.
To that end, they need to be motivated – not just by financial compensation, but by the promise of contributing to something that matters, in a way that will provide a long-term benefit for all involved.
To sum it up, the most important aspects for putting together your dream startup team include visualizing the team, finding and bringing together the right individuals, and leveraging the right motivation to create something extraordinary.
1. It’s a Hiring Challenge
The first step is the hardest. You need the right people. And to that end, you need the right resources. Scouring LinkedIn and working off word of mouth isn’t going to be enough. Consider employing the services of an experienced HR consultant or a headhunter to put together the kind of people you envision to be perfect for the job.
One of the benefits of working internationally and leveraging remote work tools is that the entire planet can be your talent pool, especially if you are open to creating a remote startup team.
While you might still want key talent to live near you and commute to work with you, you can look elsewhere for positions that don’t necessarily need to shadow you as you make your moves in the industry or advise you on every step of the process.
But with such a massive talent pool comes the challenge of putting together the right hires. It’s really important here to take your time. It’s also important to define exactly what it is you will be looking for, and to create something that helps describe to potential employees what it is that they should be looking forward to.
2. Company Culture Must Be Clear and Distinct
To that end, all your company branding and online presence, from the contents of your website and social media to the tone of your Discord or Slack channels, should reflect what kind of culture you want to promote in your business. Do you have a distinct identity for your startup? Are you international, or very specifically local? Do you embrace a certain subculture within the workspace, or a certain “vibe”?
Startup teams are nothing like project teams in larger companies. These aren’t professionals coming together for a short period to work on something within the framework of a bigger company.
These are people tasked with communicating and collaborating on a deep and personal level for months before finally getting a business to scale and take off in a big way. Every day spent at work is dedicated to making the business as a whole function, rather than contributing to a single project within a company’s larger budget.
That is why having a palpable culture that potential hires can identify and use as a barometer for whether they want to join is important. You want people who fit right in.
3. Establish an Ability Filter
Culture and vibe matter, but ability is still critical. You will need to establish what minimum ability filter you wish to set for the people who join your business. For each role you envision, figure out what level of skill and experience can function as the bare minimum.
There’s nothing wrong with hiring someone who is not quite as experienced as the next choice but is a much better fit overall.
You might have the world’s best software engineer on your hands, but if they’re toxic or will chronically stand out within the team and feel alienated, you will end up fostering a friction that can ruin your startup’s future.
Rather than being dead set on a very specific level of skill, establish what it is you need, and then filter the best available candidates by their personalities, values, interests, and history.
4. Find Contrasting and Complementing Personalities
One mistake many startup heads make when hiring their first initial team is finding people they can hang out with. While it’s important that everyone is a fit for the general company culture, you need contrasting personalities within a startup team.
You can’t just have people who agree with your or are of one mind on all topics. If you’re overly optimistic, you will need a pessimist on the team to temper your expectations.
If you’re risk-averse, you will need a maverick who will push you to take on a bit more than you’re comfortable with. These contrasts will help make for a more balanced decision-making process within the business and can save the company from mistakes down the road.
5. Hire Slow and Fire Fast
Putting together a team takes a lot of time, and it should. It’s difficult for people to fire others, especially in a project as personal and intimate as a startup.
This means you may give the wrong type of person several chances and multiple months to infect and corrupt the company before finally cutting them loose.
This can affect morale, it can affect the rest of the team’s confidence in your leadership skills, and it can affect the future of the business. Take your time when hiring to make sure that you’re making the right decision with each new member, and fire quickly when red flags start popping up.
6. The Cost-Effective Nature of Coworking
The nature of a startup lies partially therein that capital and resources are scarce – both the human kind, and the financial kind.
Part of surviving the initial stages of being in a startup involves being frugal enough to invest in all the right places. The workplace is obviously a critical space for startup investment, but there is really no need to blow a significant portion of your capital on the down payment for a long-term real estate lease.
Coworking spaces provide you with a fully furnished workspace and top-shelf amenities for a fraction of the cost you might sink into an office space that hasn’t been prepped to fit your company culture or basic infrastructure requirements.
Furthermore, coworking spaces provide startups with something they sorely need – flexibility. Every startup wants to stick around and become a household name, but very few do.
Understanding that and knowing that you might not be able to capitalize on the kind of commitment you need to make for a long-term lease means making a much more realistic month-to-month commitment instead.
Coworking spaces also embody the value and importance of casual collaboration and organic networking, both of which are crucial for startups. The ability to meet likeminded professionals, collaborate on projects, identify and meet potential business partners, or even meet new clients make coworking spaces an invaluable resource for companies in their earliest stages.